What Makes Life Worth Living on the Most American of All Holidays

I love Thanksgiving. It's not just the food that makes this holiday special, although there are few things I find more pleasurable as life begins to recede in the rear view mirror and you realize there are more years behind you than there are ahead. A good meal enjoyed with friends and family is one of those simple pleasures that the older you get, the more you treasure. Why that is, I don't know. There are many things about getting older that I simply don't understand. It's the first time I've done it, you know.

But I love this singular American holiday because of the memories of Thanksgivings past that of late have surfaced when I get that first whiff of roasting turkey or I hear the doorbell ring and the first guests arrive for the feast -- or even when I just taste Blue Cheese dip on a chip. Remembrances triggered by some still unknown mechanism, the recollections magically stored in some deep recess of my mind unreachable unless called forth by a conscious connection to one of our marvelous human senses. It is memory that adds a layer of warmth and good cheer to the proceedings.

Sometimes bittersweet when recalling parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends who are no longer with us, I can nevertheless bring them back to life in my reverie and see them exactly as they were -- laughing, talking, dealing with infants, scolding toddlers, and the small, significant looks they would give their spouse. My mother insisted on inviting every relative within driving distance which made Thanksgiving dinner something akin to eating with Patton's Third Army. Two turkeys, a literal mountain of dressing, an ocean of jello molds (my favorite being lime jello with pineapple and cottage cheese), four pies (two mince, two pumpkin), and the rest of the repast served up in equally eye popping quantities. The tables groaned in protest at the load.

What never ceased to amaze us was that everything would arrive at the table piping hot. How she could plan it so that food for 30-40 people would all be ready at the same time will remain a mystery I will go to my grave trying to unravel.